IAS Exam Syllabus And Pattern

UPSC Civil Services Examination

UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE) Pattern consisted of three stages – Prelims, Mains, and Interview. UPSC Exam, also known as IAS Exam, is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to recruit suitable candidates for IAS, IPS, IFS, and other allied services. UPSC Civil Services Exam is conducted to assess the overall capabilities of candidates.

It is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the UPSC Exam Pattern. It will allow you to effectively manage your time thereby making your UPSC preparation more efficient. It is also important to have a deep understanding of the IAS exam pattern to align your preparation with all the exam needs.

Broadly, UPSC conducts the Civil Service Examination in three phases namely:

  • Preliminary Examination
  • Main Examination
  • Personality Test (Interview)

Candidates who qualify for all the rounds are recommended for joining the civil services in India. Each round is an elimination round, so you need to qualify each one in order to appear for the next one. Now, let us discuss the UPSC Exam Pattern along with the marking scheme for each of the papers in different rounds.

UPSC Exam Pattern For IAS Preliminary Examination

UPSC CSE Prelims consists of two papers namely General Studies I and CSAT (General Studies Paper-II). While CSAT is qualifying in nature, the marks obtained in the General Studies paper determine your selection for UPSC Mains. It means your score in the General Studies Paper will be considered for the Prelims cutoff.

Additionally, there is negative marking for the wrong answers. 1/3rd of the marks allotted for the question would be deducted as a penalty for marking the wrong answer. However, if you do not attempt the question, there will be no deductions. Hence, you should take only calculated risks when it comes to marking doubtful questions

Now, let us look at the UPSC Exam Pattern for Prelims:

Name of the PaperNo of QuestionsMarks AllottedTime AllottedNature of Exam
Paper–I: General Studies- I(Objective Type)1002002 hoursThe score will be considered for Cut-off
Paper-II: CSAT (Objective Type)802002 hoursQualifying Nature- Candidates will have to score 33% to qualify for CSAT.

In reference to the UPSC Exam Pattern, the following points should be kept in mind while appearing for IAS Prelims Exams:

  • It is mandatory for all the candidates to appear for both the exams viz General Studies and CSAT to qualify for the Mains.
  • The score obtained in the Prelims will not be added to the final score. UPSC CSE Prelims will be just for screening purposes.
  • The question paper of Prelims will be bilingual. It will have questions written both in Hindi and English Language.
  • There is a negative marking of 1/3rd for every incorrect answer in both papers.

UPSC Exam Pattern For IAS Mains Examination

The UPSC Exam Pattern for the Mains Exam is tabulated below. The IAS Mains Exam consists of two types of papers viz qualifying and merit-ranking. Paper A and Paper B namely the Language paper and English paper will be qualifying in nature. The marks obtained in these papers will not be added to marks that may determine your rank. All the other papers will be evaluated for merit purposes.

PaperSubjectDurationTotal marksTime AllottedNature of paperType of Paper
Paper ACompulsory Indian Language3 hours3003 hoursQualifyingDescriptive
Paper BEnglish3 hours3003 hoursQualifyingDescriptive
Paper IEssay3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper-IIGeneral Studies I3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper-IIIGeneral Studies II3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper IVGeneral Studies III3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper VGeneral Studies IV3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper VIOptional I3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive
Paper VIIOptional II3 hours2503 hoursMeritDescriptive

The following points should be kept in mind while preparing for UPSC CSE Mains:

  • Except for language papers, Paper A and Paper B, scores in all the other papers will determine your rank.
  • Hence, your score will be out of a total of 1750 marks.
  • It is mandatory to score at least 25% in each paper to be evaluated during the final selection.
  • Candidates will be required to write the answers in the answer sheets provided by the UPSC. No extra sheets will be provided.

General Studies Papers:

The subjects which are covered in different General Studies Paper in the Mains Exam are mentioned as under:

General Studies IIndian Heritage and Culture, History n Geography, Society
General Studies IIGovernance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, International Relations
General Studies IIITechnology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
General Studies IVEthics, Aptitude, Integrity

List Of Optional Subjects For UPSC Mains

Here’s the list of optional subjects that can be opted for UPSC Mains:

AgricultureAnimal Husbandry and Veterinary ScienceAnthropologyBotanyChemistry
Civil EngineeringCommerce and AccountancyEconomicsElectrical EngineeringGeography
GeologyHistoryLawManagementMathematics
Mechanical EngineeringMedical SciencePhilosophyPhysicsPolitical Science and International Relations
PsychologyPublic AdministrationSociologyStatisticsZoology

The Options For Literature Subjects

AssameseBengaliBodoDogriGujarati
HindiKannadaKashmiriKonkaniMaithili
MalayalamManipuriMarathiNepaliOdia
PunjabiSanskritSanthaliSindhiTamil
TeluguUrduEnglish

IAS Exam Pattern | UPSC Interview Process

The interview process is the last and final stage of the selection process for the UPSC Exam Pattern. The interview consists of 275 marks which makes the grand total of maximum marks 2025. Some of the qualities that the board assesses in a candidate are:

  • Mental acuity
  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Risk assessment skills
  • Crisis management skills
  • Ability to become a leader
  • Intellectual and moral integrity

Civil Services Examination Prelims Syllabus

General Studies Paper-I Syllabus

It has 100 questions broadly covering the following topics carrying a maximum of 200 marks to be solved in 2 hours.

  • Current events of National & International importance.
  • History of India & Indian National Movement.
  • Indian & World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India & the World.
  • Indian Polity & Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic & Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity & climate change – that do not require subject specialization.
  • General Science.

General Studies Paper-II Syllabus

It comprises 80 questions from the following topics carrying a maximum of 200 marks to be solved in 2 hours.

  • Comprehension.
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills.
  • Logical reasoning & analytical ability.
  • Decision-making & problem-solving.
  • General mental ability.
  • Basic numeracy (numbers & their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level)

General Studies Paper-II of the IAS Exam is a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.

Civil Services Examination Mains Syllabus

I. Qualifying Papers on Indian Languages and English

The pattern of questions would be as follows:

English Language:
  • Comprehension of given passages.
  • Precis Writing.
  • Usage and Vocabulary.
  • Short Essays.
Indian Languages:
  • Comprehension of given passages.
  • Precis Writing.
  • Usage and Vocabulary.
  • Short Essays.
  • Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa.

II. Paper-I: Essay

  • Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics.
  • They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion and write concisely.
  • Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

III. Paper-II: General Studies-I

Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.

  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature, and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
  • The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  • History of the world will include events from the 18th century such as the industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc.— their forms and effect on society.
  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems, and their remedies.
  • Effects of globalization on Indian society.
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
  • Salient features of the world’s physical geography.
  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).
  • Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, tsunamis, Volcanic activity, cyclones, etc., geographical features and their location changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

IV. Paper-III: General Studies-II

Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

  • Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions, and basic structure.
  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues, and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels, and challenges therein.
  • Separation of powers between various organs disputes redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  • Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.
  • Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, the conduct of business, powers & privileges, and issues arising out of these.
  • Structure, organization, and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
  • Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  • Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions, and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.Statutory, regulatory, and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions, and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency, and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability, and institutional and other measures.
  • Role of civil services in a democracy.
  • India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional, and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies, and fora – their structure, mandate.

V. Paper-IV: General Studies-III

Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development, and employment.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • Government Budgeting.
  • Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport, and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
  • Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System-objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
  • Food processing and related industries in India- scope’ and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  • Land reforms in India.
  • Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy, and their effects on industrial growth.
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.
  • Investment models.
  • Science and technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
  • Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, bio-technology, and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  • Conservation, environmental pollution, and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
  • Disaster and disaster management.
  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering, and its prevention.
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

VI. Paper-V: General Studies-IV

Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude

This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life, and his problem-solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society.

Questions may utilize the case study approach to determine these aspects.

The following broad areas will be covered:

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers, and administrators; the role of family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behavior; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  • Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance, and compassion towards the weaker sections.
  • Emotional intelligence concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world.
  • Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations, and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
  • Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.
  • Case Studies on the above issues.
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